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NRL News

Lodge needs NRL for recovery: Hodges

Matt Lodge during the Brisbane Broncos training .jpg

Matt Lodge during the Brisbane Broncos training session in Brisbane, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Former Brisbane captain Justin Hodges says Matt Lodge needs to play NRL for his recovery from an infamous drunken rampage to be successful.

And he believes the Broncos are the right club for the controversial signing to do it with.

Brisbane and the NRL have copped criticism for throwing the 22-year-old prop a 2018 lifeline.

The backlash over his return threatens to overshadow the Broncos' NRL season opener against St George Illawarra on Thursday night after CCTV footage of his 2015 New York attack was released last week.

Lodge was hit with a $1.5 million damages bill after a plea deal but avoided time in a US jail.

The victims say they have not received any payment and claim he is trying to avoid justice by returning to the NRL.

Broncos staff member Hodges said playing football under master coach Wayne Bennett was just what Lodge needed right now.

"Obviously he did something very bad, you can't forget that," Hodges told Fox League's Queenslanders Only.

"But he's on his way to recovery. He needs the game, he needs to be playing the game.

"The Broncos probably don't need him but he needs the Broncos.

"It's the one club that can turn him around into a great person again.

"I think he is going to be great for our club."

Ahead of his first NRL game in three years Lodge has given his first insight into the attack, revealing a battle with prescription drugs at the time of the incident.

Lodge has also revealed his embarrassment over the attack, telling League Life on Fox: "I wasn't brought up like that".

Cronulla veteran Luke Lewis had a problem with Lodge's return.

"For me it is hard to answer because I am so passionate about violence against women," Lewis told NRL 360.

"It's something I saw as a kid which I didn't really like.

"It's hard to say I think they made the right decision by letting him back in but they did.

"Rugby league has given him a second chance and fingers crossed he can pay back himself, his friends, family, the league and the fans and he doesn't let anyone down again."

© AAP 2018